1610s, "small sweet cake made of ground almonds (instead of flour) and whites of eggs," from French macaron (16c.), from dialectal Italian maccarone, the name of a kind of pasty food made of flour, cheese, and butter (see macaroni). The French meaning is said to have been introduced 1552 by Rabelais. The -oon ending was conventional in 15c.-17c. English to add emphasis to borrowings of French nouns ending in stressed -on.